I had a friend once whose favorite expression was "it's all
good". She said that reminded her that
whatever problems life threw at her, it was all for the good. When you faced a challenge, it made you
stronger, a better person. As I stood
in the trauma room of the ER, I kept telling myself "it's all good" over and
over. I was having a hard time
believing it. Maybe it had something to
do with the fact I was staring at my father's lifeless body on a steel table.
Dad got off of his shift a couple of hours before. He walked outside the ER right as a gang was
doing a drive by on the hospital. Why
they were doing it nobody knew. What
happened, we all knew. Dad was shot
twice in the chest. Two of the other
doctors got him back into the ER and started trying to resuscitate him.
One of the nurses called Mom. I was so glad I was home.
It was "family night" at Justin's, so I couldn't go with him to do some
research on a story we were working.
Mom told Kayla and I that Dad had been shot, and it was serious. We got to the hospital in record time, and
then waited. The doctors worked on Dad
for almost an hour, but one of the bullets went through his heart, and in the
end they couldn't stop the bleeding.
Dr. Jack Alexander Harris was pronounced dead at 5:04 PM.
When Dr. Greer walked out, I knew. So did Mom. Doctors have
different expressions for seriousness.
Dad would joke it was a secret class at medical school. Dr. Greer had the "I'm sorry, we did all we
could" look. Mom started to cry
silently, and Kayla was letting out little whimpers as she started to cry, but
I couldn't at all.
They cleaned Dad up as best they could and let us see
him. I could not even make myself
cry. I was so cold. The last time I'd been this cold I was in a
river during the middle of the Wyoming winter.
All I could think of was the last time Dad and I had a father-daughter
talk. It was a few months ago when he
had to work a graveyard shift, and I was sitting on the roof when he came
home. He climbed up there with me and
we talked about life, the universe, and all things. It was funny how in all these years, he'd never said anything to
indicate I wasn't his blood child. But this
last time he told me that even though God had taken one daughter from him, he'd
given them a blessing they'd treasured every day.
And now I couldn't even cry. What was wrong with me? I
wanted to. I wanted to scream that it
wasn't fair. I felt like I had
distanced myself a thousand miles from the situation. Somewhere in the back of my mind I could hear Lydecker's
speaking. "Emotion will always be the
failing point of a mission. It is the
ultimate weakness in a solider."
Mom finally took a ragged breath, and leaned over Dad's
body, kissing him one more time. "I
love you Jack," she whispered. She
straightened. "Come on girls, it's time
We walked out of the room together. Mom promptly fainted. She's strong, but this had done more than
just knock the wind out of her. I caught
her before she hit the ground, and that's when Kayla went into hysterics. Dr. Greer helped me get Mom into another
bed, and got the pediatric doctor to give Kayla a sedative. He gave Mom something to help her sleep
through the night. Kayla was out cold.
I could tell Dr. Greer thought I was in shock and might need
to take something too. What could I
say? Sorry, doc, I'm just falling back
on training I received as a kid in a top-secret project. That didn't seem right. My hands were shaking; I started to worry
about having a seizure. That would just
be the icing on the cake.
I asked one of the nurses if I could use the phone. I went to the nurses' station and
dialed. I knew most of them, and
vaguely heard their sympathetic words.
Please answer, I prayed, please just let someone answer.